By Lisa Birle
I might be the only person on earth who actually loves writing Christmas cards. (If I have your address, chances are you’re getting one—You’re welcome!) As I was writing, addressing, and stamping away, I came across the name of a student who I met earlier this year who is relatively new to our community. Our first time getting to know each other was the result of an e-mail she had sent our team…an e-mail that bled with a heart aching for truth. This student had grown up going to church but had hit a transition in her faith. This year, she wrestled through claiming her personal faith as her own, and not just believing things because her parents did.
This student and I met up at Starbucks early in the summer and had a great conversation. She asked such great, legitimate questions about whether God is real, how we can believe him, and explained her frustrations and confusion about feeling him and knowing him. We had a great chat and shared some stories, and I gave her some action steps—to continue to pray, to continue to attend a small group, and to ask someone on staff two questions every week about God. Our team also sent her some books. What I wanted to encourage her to do was be in constant dialogue with God, with community (her small group), and with someone who could give her answers to her tough questions (Crave staff), and to know that our team and community were here to love and support her through her doubts.
Fast-forward to December. This student regularly serves at our weekly service and never misses a week. She attended our fall retreat which focused on hearing God’s voice in our lives and responding to Him. She heard God’s heart cry out to her—and she responded. She was baptized after the retreat and God has developed a passion in her for working with children. I have seen a softened heart and attitude in her, a desire to continue to draw hear to him, and so much more joy radiating from her when I see her now. She’s such an important part of our community and such an encouragement to me personally.
The reason I thought about this student as I was writing Christmas cards is because this is her first Christmas having a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Christ. I am so excited for her to experience his true joy and peace as she celebrates him this Christmas, and I thank God for the many students who can celebrate Christmas this year—for the first time, in a sense—understanding how deeply God’s heart cares for them and how much they are cherished. Our God is mighty to save! What a life-changing truth to be walking in as Christmas approaches…what a reason to rejoice!
Take some time to think about what God has done through your ministry this year. Which students know him this Christmas who didn’t know him last Christmas? I’m so grateful to have seen the journey that God brought this particular student through this year…and even more excited to see her continue to understand his rescuing love and amazing purposes for her life. Christmas is truly such a profound time of celebration—for the gift that God gave us, and for those who receive that gift. As we head to our staff Christmas parties, fuss over gift wrapping and decorating, and stress about services, let us take time to be in awe and thank God for the hope that the birth of Christ illuminates the world with on Christmas.
Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12
May your Christmas be merry and bright.